shopping

Choosing Patterns, some how's and why's

My closet is a dense forest of me-made wardrobe items. Crammed and straining. And yet, i cannot stop myself from sewing more things to wear. I used to get sad and wistful looking into my closet, wishing I had something I was excited to wear. After I started making my own gear my closet visits transformed! Now I stand before my closet flooded with excitement about which awesome, exciting, well-fitting outfit to wear today

On the right you can my sweater bag. Cardigans in many colors and shapes, organized into warm, cool and neutral stacks. In truth, my sweater bag lives in my dude's closet. Mine, although the larger of the two bedroom closets, isn't big enough. It's love. 

So with so many fun choices how do I decide what to make next? How do I balance pattern selections? What makes a good scale, color, texture choice? Below I'll walk you through some snaps of a recent trip our to my favorite fabric warehouse! Most of my fabric choices are a variety of quilting cottons, which simplifies things a bit. I like working with quilting cottons, easy to sew, easy to care for and SO MANY CHOICES!!!


Here's a stack I had gathered up, trying to work out what I should get and what wouldn't make the cut! If you ever see that weird lady in the fabric store draping fabric over herself... think of me. I'm that lady. It's really one of the best ways to understand how a pattern will be affected by the curves of your body, whether the scale will work for you, if the color is flattering. 


This pretty light yellow-green fabric was a definite thumbs-down. Looking at my skin next to this fabric I felt super washed out. I love the scale and that the pattern offers fun possibilities for using on-grain or on-bias. Sadly, it didn't make the cut.


I struggle with feedsack patterns. I really liked this color but this particular fabric was a plaid crepe with varying levels of sheerness/opacity. I don't like to line my skirts so this one didn't make the cut either. 


Oh man, I went back and forth on this fabric for a long time. I think I worked through the stack and came back to it 2 or three times. I so love the energy of this print, it's a little wild and fireworks-y and the shade of pink is nice and versatile. I loved the idea of the fabric in a skirt and kept imagining twirling in a circle skirt of pink fireworks... but I could not get a good image in my head with the fabric for a bodice. Who knows, perhaps next time I will see the boom boom pow pattern again. Didn't make it this time. 


At this point I am guessing you might be wondering well... what did you get? I loved this crosshatch. I like the smallness of the different elements in the pattern and how it is balanced out by the all-over, irregular cross-hatch. From a few feet away the pattern did not break into distinct boxes or stripes, also a major plus. The dots here are green, blue, white and brown. The background is pink with a darker pink crosshatch. Very flexible for cardigans. We had a winner!


You can kind of see it in my secret-excited little smirk here; I loved this fabric. It said, Barbie Throws a Party or Donna Reed's Summer Shindig or Please Wear Me With Little White Gloves!!! I brought this one home. Classic polka dots with bold pink roses breaking things up. I like irregular polka dots as I find that straight polka dot matrices make my eyes water, they look like they are vibrating. So this was a perfect solution.


Sadly, one more that did not make the cut. These are the kinds of fabrics and patterns that I really love and really wish worked for me. You can see how wan and washed out I look next to it. The pattern has a fun Deco look but I just couldn't get something that would look so blah in color next to my skin. 

I regularly make another round through the store after cutting my initial choices. First off, they ask you to reshelve your fabrics yourself. Second, I almost always feel like I will find one more thing now that I am in the zone. Here is a shot of all the lucky home-comers from the last go-around. You can see a whole bunch of things that didn't make the pictures. Some of these I felt so strongly about I didn't both with pictures for. I have finished 4 dresses from these fabrics so far. The Lemon Surprise fabric was a 2nd round find as was the chambray with discharge print roses in the upper right hand corner.  


I finally got a tripod for my camera so more outfit posts on the way! Hurray! Hopefully this helped expand your horizons of print and pattern possibilities! 

xo, 
Sarah



Rock Vintage and Retro Shoes Even With Bum Feet

Let me start out with a big 'ol **DISCLAIMER** that I am no doctor. I have no medical training. 
I am NOT recommending any courses of treatment. 
I am only sharing my own experiences and hoping that you might benefit. 

So, about a year ago I was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis and a heel spur. Woo! Party time! Not at all. The pain in the beginning was crazy. I talk about it very briefly here and here.

IN THE BEGINNING...
I was wooed into buying things just because they were comfortable. 

The pain in the beginning was seriously so bad I cried. Please, friends, if you find you have pain in your body, don't just ignore it. So. Birkenstock clogs. I was looking for something stylish, work-appropriate and comfortable. The salesman at a local Birkenstock rep told me that everyone who tried these on loved them but they (the shoes) were just a little too small...

I wear a size 37 in Euro sizing. 7 in USA sizing. And he was right. They felt sooooo good. I felt like I needed to change my look to wear them, though. And these days they only get worn around the house or doing errands on days that I don't want to put any effort into my appearance. In short, almost never.

THEN I GOT SUCKED IN BY GLOWING USER REVIEWS...
People exclaiming that some shoe was the best thing since sliced bread. 

 

I missed ballet flats. I have never accepted that having Plantar Fasciitis means an end to my love of ballet flats. One of my co-workers extoled the virtues of FitFlops. So I looked into them. Major controversy on whether they really work. I ordered these for a steal on Zappos but you can also find them here. For me, ultimately, these shoes don't work. My foot works too hard trying to keep them on and I find the toe clenching causes more pain. I keep them around for dressy occasions that don't involve a lot of walking or dancing. They are still patent leather...

AND THEN... I HAD A BETTER IDEA OF WHAT TO LOOK FOR!
Now I have some reliable brands that look good, feel good and fit my vintage and retro style. 
  
One of the first shoes that I found that hit the trifecta of comfortable, supportive and vintage-appropriate was from the Worishofer brand. This particular style is the Krista. I was able to find it on Zappos but one of the best selections I've seen of the brand is from this fun bite of little, old, Floridian lady culture: Buddy Shoes of Boca Raton

Check them out! They are full of adorable, vintage-appropriate shoes that also joyously scream, "I'm going to be a fashionable old lady!


These were some of the cutest retro wedges I have found with arch support. I got them at Schuler Shoes when they went on sale. I love them so much and I am super bummed to have set them aside for the winter... *sad face* They are from Earth Shoes! You can still find them here.



I found this style of Birkenstock going down the retro shoe rabbit hole some drippy evening. Once I found out they exist I became obsessed with trying them on. Unfortunately, most retailers don't stock Birkenstock shoes. I ended up having them shipped from a store in Virginia and man! So glad I did. They are called the Perugia. I would link a store but they were a serious investigation to track down. So a Google search for you!



These Earth Shoe Solars are my go-to, closed-toe shoe. They have simple design details and feel very secure whenever I wear them. The negative heel design provides lots of comfort and the instep strap is super easy to pull on and off. These were my first success in getting close to my basic ballet flat. 



Lastly, the shoes so nice I had to buy them twice! My Birkenstock Messina's always get compliments. Most folks have never seen a Birkenstock in a Mary Jane style. I found them in black at first and then spotted the brown ones on sale at... you guessed it! Schulers! They pretty much work with everything. Although they are a bit on the clunky/chunky side they are super comfortable and quite cute!

In conclusion:
-Plantar Fasciitis is not a shoe death sentence
-trial and error is essential to finding real footwear solutions to chronic foot pain
-brands covered here: Earth Shoes, FitFlop, Birkenstock, Worishofer
-additional brands worth a look! Taryn Rose, Chaco, Dromedaris

Good luck my vintage pals! It gets better!
xo, 
Sarah

Burgeoning Bakelite bonanza

Like so many vintage-loving ladies (and gents!) I have a major heart-on for Bakelite. My collection has grown hugely this year and I thought it would be fun to share a few of the things I have found and the many ways I have seen Bakelite lovers store their stashes. 


My most recent finds are the unworn stacks in the upper left and lower right corners. This summer I discovered a vintage jewelry store called Ann & Jack's Vintage Jewelry in Hopkins (just west of Minneapolis) that has a great variety of vintage jewelry offerings. I brought little miss J last time and was so impressed with their store. They have a chest of treasures that your little ones can paw through and take a treat home for free! What a great way to help a mama out as she gets her oooh-sparkly fix!

Anywho, the most recent acquisitions are somewhat of a work in progress. The bangles in the lower right corner have some serious patina that I believe is hiding a light blue green (top) and a hot pink (middle). The bottom one might even have some strong blue streaks if I can get the layers worked down.

I am interested in learning more about how to restore the original colors and started off with Brasso. I'll also be looking to try Novus #3 and Turtlewax Chrome polish. I've heard good things. I'd love to hear if you have other suggestions!

When you start having a good sized collection you need to find a good way to keep all those beauties stored and displayed, too! 

On my Pinterest board Bangles, brooches and bags, oh my! I have saved lots of items that just make me go, "Ooooooooh...!" I've also started saving images of the different ways people store their bangles for your viewing pleasure. Here are a couple of my favorites!

                             

I started out with this sweet jewelry box my mother gave me years ago. It has a nice, deep bottom compartment that worked really well! You can see here, though that my collection was already bursting at the seams. Time to start looking for other, inspiring ideas!

This coke-bottle options is super neat. What a fun way to sort and store your bangles! Plus, don't you just envy a collection so broad, varied and extensive??? *sigh*

I like this idea a lot, too. A great, inexpensive way to store and display. Plus, moving your bangles off of your dresser or vanity is great for freeing up surface area! In this bangle-fan's blog she mentions the benefit of being able to swap out towel tubes when they get exhausted. I think that's pretty good but I know it would drive me batty to have to replace them and also to have to take the tube off every time I wanted to sort through the bangles. Which is why...

This is the method I love most! These bangles are not my own collection but are the same sort of storage I use. I have been extremely lucky to find a couple of these boxes at different flea markets. I have a silvery blue one that I snagged for $7 and a salmony pink one I scored for just $2! It was super dirty but has cleaned up rather well and I have been happy with it so far. 

I feel like I have seen and known about Bakelite all my life. All throughout my childhood I remember being dragged (hey, I wasn't always jazzed but I am so glad my parents made me do things that interested them, too) to flea markets all over the region. We went to antique stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey. For several years in high school we hit up the Atlantique City Antique Show. It's a mega-huge gathering of small and big time dealers all gather under one roof. 

I remember seeing cases and cases stacked with Bakelite. Bangles, jewelry, phones, knives, etc, etc. These days, every Bakelite bauble I see is that much more precious and exciting to spot. I'd love to see shots of your own bangle storage and favorite bakelite pieces! Plus, I'm excited to share updates on the restoration process of my new bangles on Instagram. 

xo, 
Sarah







Day off, new sewing space!



Ok, so it's not a totally new sewing space. We moved into our duplex about 2 months ago and although we are settled in many ways I am still getting used to the new space and it's quirks. We've just combined households and finding just the right way to put each of our belongings into the best use is the kind of challenge I love. Fortunately for us both my boyfriend likes my flair for organization and design. 

Here's the new layout!


I really should have taken some before/after photos since there is an enormous red, sculptural chair that is now hidden away in our Enormous Closet. I was getting pretty frustrated with my workspace flow before. I have a small ironing board and it would have to be used on top of the worktable. The serger felt crammed in at the far end when the giant chair was in the place of the sewing machine. Now, I have usurped a bookshelf for my ironing station (and lego storage for the kiddo!) and we have a lot more open floor space. Woo! I keep other supplies tucked away in our Enormous Closet.


Now, with the sewing space on its way to glory I have a couple of other things that need resolving. I'm pumped to hang these wine boxes for some additional storage/keeping junk off the workspace over my sewing machine. It'll be great to be able to keep thread and bobbins close at hand without having them on the work surface! Other items include: additional light for sewing machine area (perhaps), additional thread rack for overflow (absolutely!), hairpin legs for the worktable (when I can stop myself from blowing my candy money on Bakelite...rrrrright.)    


For now, I am off to spend the day with my stepdaughter. This will be her first time coming thrifting and antiquing with me. On the lookout for: Bakelite bangles, quilted hosiery boxes, end tables and cloth napkins. Future post on our day of spoils and also my approach to antiquing and thrifting, for sure!

Great fabric in Minnesota

When I moved to Minnesota I really did not know where to go for good fabric. I knew there were a number of Jo-Ann stores in the metro but Ho-Ann is not my usual cup of tea. So you can certainly see why I was super excited to start learning about the less commercial options available! Two places in particular have become my regular stomping grounds: S.R. Harris and Crafty Planet.

S.R. HIMG_2699arris is an enormous, 30,000sq.ft. warehouse fill in every square inch with all manner of apparel and home fabrics and cut rate prices. Their typical set up is to offer 50% off of all shelf prices with occasional additional sales on specific categories (linen, silks, upholstery, etc). I had lived here more than 2 years before I went the first time. I has little knowledge of what I was getting myself into. I spent HOURS there. I know now to set a budget (usually about $100) for a visit and to go in with my little book of swatches and a plan. Otherwise I'll just go bonkers. These two fun projects came from quilting cottons I found there.
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Crafty Planet is a small, independently-owned fabric and yarn store that specializes in all manner of sweet, novelty prints and unique quilting weight cottons. I got my stepdaughter this amazing KABOOM fabric for a circle skirt of her own!  They are a little on the spendy side but it does my heart good to support local businesses that support our enthusiastic maker/sewist community around these parts. If you happen to be in Minnesota I strongly encourage you to hit these spots up. It'll stoke your stitching fire!
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